When I am consulting to the restaurants I work with I see it again and again: the host is utilized merely as a friendly sentinel at the front of the restaurant and is tasked with answering the phone, greeting and seating guests and being nice to customers. While this is incredibly important, this is not the only purpose of this position. I wonder how many hosts are told: “your job is to make money for the restaurant”? Or “your ability to convince people to wait for a table when they walk in is the key to the restaurant’s success?” The host or hostess will always create the first impression of your business, in person and on the phone. But the host’s primary function is to make money for the restaurant by seating as many guests as possible between the opening and closing hours of the restaurant.
When you empower your host by telling him that his responsibility is to the bottom line it changes things; it creates a more level playing field on the team. Usually the host is on the low rung of the restaurant heirarchy. When the host is charged with impacting the bottom line, the servers and bartenders are no longer the only sales people on the floor. The hosts are now part of the sales team as they are ultimately responsible for making the sale by capturing the sale. Once we make the hosts responsible for the bottom line we must include the bussers as well. Their ability to clear and reset tables makes it easier for the host to seat another guest and make more money for the operation. The runners contribute to this by keeping up the pace of the kitchen and ensuring that the food is paced out, the guests are served and no one is waiting for their meal to arrive.
It takes a team of people to serve just one guest and it takes a collaborative team to serve hundreds of guests a night. When you can turn your host into someone with her fingers on the purse strings of the business it is ultimately profitable for your operation. And I have attest to the fact that being a host who knows she drives the business is way more fascinating, empowering and satisfying to her than just being stationed at the front and being nice. As an owner or manager, can really teach your hosts how the hospitality, kindness and etiquette they show to your guests can drive your bottom line in a meaningful and lasting way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Edwards is a speaker, author, customer service expert, and leadership coach based in NYC. She owns and operates Kate Edwards & Company, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in customer experience and leadership.